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Monday, May 24, 2004

Gather 'Round, Children 

It's been requested that I tell my favorite Mike Cameron story. It's not exactly in line with the current Mariners discussion, but in this dismal 2004 season, we could use the levity.

It was late summer '01. The Mariners and Mike Cameron were having the seasons of their lives. My buddy Ed and I arrived three hours early to the game to watch the M's warm up, take batting practice, and most importantly eat our Subway.

As was his custom, Cammy was carrying his bat everywhere he went on the field. He'd run his warmup sprints with bat in tow. He'd take practice cuts in the middle of the outfield. Wherever he was, he was swinging a bat.

The crowd was still sparse, with just about a dozen or so fans occupying each section of seats. As can be expected, every time a Mariner picked a baseball off the Safeco Field grass, nearby fans groveled for a souvenir. A group of particularly loud fans in the center field bleachers (the best bargain in the park) were asking for a ball to be thrown their way, since there was no way anyone was going to hit one that far away from the plate. These guys were louder and louder with each ball, and finally got Cammy to bite.

Since he already had a bat handy, Cammy decided that the most convenient way to deliver the precious souvenir was to hit a lazy fly ball in the fans' direction. He wasn't too far away, standing about 50 feet or so beyond second base on the center field side. He flipped the ball in the air and took a firm-but-not-too-hard uppercut swing.

The problem was, he topped it.

Instead of the lazy fly ball he wanted, Cammy sent a screaming line drive into section 104, where the only fan was an unsuspecting old lady reading her program oblivious to what was happening on the field.

Quoth Ed and I, "Oh, $H!T!"

The ball was headed right for the old lady!

All we heard was the SMACK! of baseball striking plastic seat.

The ball ricocheted off the seat immediately to the lady's left and back on to the outfield below. The unwitting old lady looked up from her program, looked to her left, and saw about fifty people staring at her with dropped jaws and expressions of complete shock. Not realizing just how close she came to disaster, our old lady looked back down at her program and didn't look up again until just before gametime.

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